Archer, Dying is Easy, Comedy is Hard

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I may be late to the party, but boy oh boy, I am glad I came. I have just finished watching the first 2 seasons of Archer on DVD and I am still chuckling at the thought of this hilarious TV show. The fourth season currently airs in the US on FX and Teletoon airs previous seasons in Canada. Netflix also carries earlier seasons.

Archer is an animated spy spoof aimed at an adult audience. This show is a workplace comedy named after super spy Sterling Archer code name “Duchess” (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) of the International Secret Intelligence Service (aka ISIS). ISIS is run by Archer’s overbearing micromanaging Mommy-dearest (voiced by the indomitable Jessica Walter). Archer is a spoof on James Bond; he is a good assassin, can drive really fast, loves gadgets and women but he’s not too good with the intel. To add to the fun, he is completely self-absorbed and entitled. Lana Kane is his ex-girlfriend and frequent partner on assignments. She is an Amazonian wonder who is so very over her relationship with Archer. That he fails to recognize this fact is a frequent comedic theme. The rest of the ISIS staff is bat guano crazy. There is Cheryl, the glue sniffing secretary and Pam the gossipy pot-smoking HR director who calls it as she sees it. Dr. Krieger is the research scientist who is preoccupied with his sexual fantasy world and poor Woodhouse is Archer’s martyr of a valet.

This show is so well written albeit in a caustic and more often than not sophomoric manner; my laughter often forces me to pause the DVD. I cannot keep up with the rapid-fire pace. This is all I ask from a comedy: to make me laugh, a lot. As a warning, there is coarse language and sexual themes. This show and the clips included in this blog are definitely NSFW. It is written in an episodic fashion, so you can jump in at any time. The setting is contemporary and the animation is traditional with many vintage  images thrown in. The cast is dressed in late 60’s fashions. Some of the computers fill a room and operate with punch cards. And yet they have GPS and cellphones.

There have been too many shows billed as comedies that fail to make me laugh. I tried some of the more popular ones, such as The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother and could not get engaged. I find that when an over the top laugh track punctuates pedestrian dialogue, I am quickly looking for an exit. Suffice it to say, I have not found a traditional sitcom LOL funny since Seinfeld was on the air. I did embrace non-traditional fare such as Malcolm in the Middle, Scrubs and the best of the bunch, Arrested Development (can’t wait to see what Netflix is going to do with that show next). If something was billed as a comedy and I didn’t find myself laughing after one episode, then that was it for me. I just moved on. Archer had me at the 3 minute mark.

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